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Mike and Adele Explore the Rockies - 2003

Part 5: Icefields Parkway

We hit the road and headed north towards Jasper along a road called "the Icefields Parkway."  It is definitely one of the things you MUST do on any visit to Banff.

Shortly after turning north past Lake Louise, we encountered one of the famous glaciers - the Crowfoot Glacier.

Crowfoot Glacier
This is the Crowfoot Glacier.  The three levels resemble a crow's foot (the bottom one on the left side has receded a LOT in the past century).

Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Lake
This is a view of the Crowfoot Glacier from the side overlooking Bow Lake.

Next to the Crowfoot Glacier is Bow Lake, and at the opposite end of Bow Lake is the Bow Glacier.

Bow Glacier and Falls
The Bow Glacier, along with the huge waterfall from the melting ice that empties into Bow Lake.

Clark's Nutcracker
A Clark's Nutcracker in a pine tree at Bow Lake.

Mountains around Bow Lake
The mountains around Bow Lake help you understand how they are called "the Rockies"...

We hopped back in the car and headed up the road a little ways to a turn-off for Peyto Lake.  Adele and I both agree that of all the lakes, this one is the most beautiful.  It's a short hike from the parking lot to the viewing point, but it is very much worth it.

Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake.

So, I am sure that you are wondering - how do the lakes get that interesting blue color?  I thought it was because of clear Alberta skies, but as you can see in the photo above, it was cloudy.  No, the way the glaciers get that color is from a phenomenon called "rock flour."  What happens is that the crushing weight of the glaciers scrape away at the rock underneath, pulverizing it into a fine powder with the consistency of flour.  This silt then is collected by the melting glacier and is carried into the nearby lakes, and because of its fine granularity, it remains suspended in the water.  As a result, there is little life in any of these lakes.

Silt into Lake
The rock flour carried by the melting glacier into the lake.

Then, we hopped back in the car and continued up the road.  Next we came to a collection of waterfalls over a very steep cliff face called "The Weeping Wall."

Weeping Wall Waterfalls
The Weeping Wall.  The falls are very, very tall.

Around the area near the Weeping Wall, the road starts a steep climb toward the Athabasca Glacier.  Be sure to stop here.  There is a lot to see.

Yep, it's snow in June.  In fact, the snow never really completely melts in many places up here.

Big Valley
The view of the valley.  The Weeping Wall is in the center of the picture.

Slippery Slope
A very steep and very slippery slope.

Layered Mountain
The gateway to the Athabasca Glacier.  This mountain is a good example of the layered seabed that formed the mountains.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls, just past the Weeping Wall.

Green Colored River
The cool green water in the Saskatchewan River.

Next stop:  the Athabasca Glacier.

Continue on to Part 6: Athabasca Glacier